Years in Tampa Bay
We've been in Tampa Bay since we entered Startup Weekend in November.
Co-founders of Lunchpool.
What do you do?
Alex: Lunchpool is a very simple concept. We want people to eat lunch together, we think connections are formed by breaking bread. We think people should get up from their desks. There's an epidemic in America of desktop dining. We think people should get away from their desks, take a break in their day; you're more productive and can meet the world around you. We have an app that can help you connect with others who want to meet new people for lunch. Pooja: It's also very beneficial from a business standpoint for other employers to see their culture be more positive, to see their employees connect and really reach their potential.
Why do you do it?
Alex: I've been in corporate America for the better part of the last 10 years and I see the same thing over and over, where I have my clique and other teams have their cliques, people aren't cross-pollinating and getting to know the people around them. I think we can fix that, we can get people connecting with each other over common interests. When we do that, that's when innovation happens and we get rid of those feelings of isolation. Pooja: I've seen that theme play out from the 300,000-person company to the 60-person company, there's still that isolation, especially during onboarding.
What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)
Alex: The day before Startup Weekend, one of the organizers contacted me and said, "No you have to enter this competition, you're an entrepreneur" (I didn't know what that was) but she got me to go. I was sitting next to Pooja, pitched it, people liked it, and it's amazing the innovation in Tampa. None of us knew each other beforehand. The rest is kinda history. Pooja: To me the best part was the level of commitment that we already had from the team, people committed to making this product, people committed to it succeeding. And now, two months after the competition, we're still here.
What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?
Pooja: I think people think we're just doing lunches. The name is Lunchpool, but we're doing so much more than that. Lunch is just a good casual informal way to create that kind of connection and start something new. Alex: It's not just a lunch scheduling app, we're also doing a lot of research into network weaving, adding value to your networks, once we're able to demonstrate that to HR professionals, it's going to be a fast ride.
What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?
Alex: I have a 1-year-old daughter, and a wife who is finishing her Ph.D. at USF, and I have a daytime job right now. It's balancing everything you have to do, it's challenging but totally worth it. Pooja: I do not have a wife or daughter,; but I do have a full-time day job. But what I'm finding is that I'm getting such a good creative outlet through this, it doesn't feel arduous.
What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?
Alex: For me, it's listen to people who are smarter than you. I've gotten advice from people like Brian Kornfeld of Synapse and Richard Munassi of Tampa Bay Wave. Take that in, internalize it, listen to them, but don't be afraid to push back as well if you really feel strongly about something. Pooja: Patience. We're not going to go from zero to public in five seconds. We're putting in the work, the time, the effort and it's going to pay off, but we've got to be patient about it. Take your time, do the research, read the articles, listen to the podcasts, read the books. Never eat lunch alone!